Creating a daily life habit out of blending nutritious, delicious smoothies is one of the best ways to begin the day in a positive, productive manner. However, before you can start off on your smoothie adventure, you will need to be fitted out with the right gear and tools. Smoothies require a blender that is specifically designed to crush ice. Here, we offer a review of the key features for consumers to be aware of relating specifically to ice crusher blenders.
Daily Health and Smoothie Blending
Blended smoothies offer a healthy, easy, and quick way to pack your body full of essential nutrients. Cooking up a four-course meal, which comprises all of the vitamins, proteins, and necessary caloric intake can take a long time. This is especially true in the mornings and afternoons when individuals are zipping around the house before work or on an hour-long lunch break. Blending a smoothie often takes less than 5 minutes from prepping your ingredients to cleaning up the blending area. Not only is smoothie blending a fast, versatile, and efficient meal option but they are also delicious.
So, why doesn’t everybody blend? Well, all blenders are not created equal. For those who want to make a daily lifestyle habit of making smoothies, they will need an ice crusher blender of quality. Of course, it is possible to create an entire menu of smoothies that avoids the need to crush ice; however, save yourself the hassle. If your blender doesn’t crush ice easily, chances are it will have a very difficult time with any high-density ingredient. Even some of the best blenders are not designed specifically for ice crushing abilities and will wear out the motor in the long run. A good ice crusher blender is a rewarding investment for those who wish to make a life-changing daily habit out of making smoothies and other nutrient-rich blended concoctions.
7 Key Specs for Ice Crushing Blenders
Most blenders have an ice crusher setting; however, many units are not built to withstand the rigors of constant use. Ice is hard—like a rock—so the best blenders should be designed to withstand the resistance while slicing and dicing the ingredients. With many low-end blenders, it might take upwards of two to three full minutes to crush a pitcher of ice cubes. This means that the unit has a sub-par power output, indicating an inadequate motor. A low-power motor, when made to work beyond its capacity, will burn out quickly. Consistent usage dictates investment in a suitable tool, of durable quality, and long-term reliability. We break down ice crusher blenders, into seven categories of key specifications. Below, are the most prevalent factors that one should take into consideration when vetting the options for an ice crusher blender, which are available from online vendors and local retail stores.
What is the main focus of an ice crusher blender? Power! All else aside, if you are blending ice cubes and frozen fruits for smoothies, your health habit will be short-lived without a motor that produces enough power. Grinding away with a low-power motor will cause the motor to lose torque and cease to function. Often, users will smell a burnt rubber aroma, meaning that the motor’s belts are spent and the unit is fast becoming a glorified paperweight.
An ice crusher blender should have a motor that operates at over 700 watts; however, this is inadequate for regular use. Preferably, for semi-regular use, the motor should be over 1000 watts to ensure the unit’s operation longevity. That being said, the best ice crushers are those that have a peak horsepower of 2 or more. Many blenders, such as the Blendtec Total Blender Classic, claim to have a peak horsepower of 3; and Blendtec is known for having the most powerful line of blenders on the market.
Horsepower is the quantification of a motor’s torque or its ability to operate at speed, through varying amounts of resistance. To find the horsepower, simply take the units running wattage and multiply it by 0.00134. The resulting number is the unit’s horsepower. For instance, the Vitamix 7500 has been truly tested to have a running wattage of 1,440 watts, which gives it a 2.2-horsepower motor. The Blendtec Total Blender Classic claims a peak horsepower of 3, but it has a motor that runs at close to 1,500 watts, which produces less than 2.1 horsepower. At the end of the day, focusing on watts (if advertised) and length of warranty are the 2 most important factors when comparing blenders.
For those looking to save a buck without sacrificing power output, the Cleanblend Commercial Blender boasts a 3-horsepower motor and is offered around $200. There is good reason to trust this specification as the motor runs at nearly 1800 watts. The popular Vitamix 7500 has a reputation of high-quality production, as well as life longevity; however, it carries a higher price tag, coming in around $500. Both units are made to easily handle ice crushing jobs, but when it comes to consistency Vitamix blenders offer more than power—they offer high-quality craftsmanship. Cleanblend, like Ninja, offers a budget blender that has a high wattage, but this does not mean that it will operate consistently well for years to come.
So, if the Vitamix 7500, Cleanblend Commercial and Ninja Pro all produce between 2 and 3 horsepower, why is there such a large price discrepancy between them? The answer is obvious as soon as you turn on each of these machines. One of the biggest differentiators in quality blenders, versus budget blenders, is in the noise decibel level produced during a unit’s normal use.
Low-quality blenders are noisy; loud, in fact. As soon as the blending starts, the conversation stops. This becomes really disruptive in the early morning when other members of the household are asleep. Waking, suddenly to the piercing sound of the 1800 watt, 80+ noise decibel level producing Cleanblend Commercial Blender is no way to begin the day for everyone in a 4-block radius to your kitchen. However, if you don’t like the people who live around you, the Cleanblend will produce delicious smoothies, while clearing out the neighborhood. There is a reason that some brands, like Vitamix, carry a higher initial expense, which is on the unit’s physical design features related to its noise decibel level.
Around 100 decibels of sound is the equivalent to running a chainsaw without wearing ear protection. Many inexpensive blenders operate at around 80 to 90 decibels, which is not in short durations necessarily dangerous for one’s eardrums. However, that much noise really sucks the energy out of the room. The Blendtec 800 Professional Blender is one of the quietest ice crusher blenders on the market, thanks to its sound barrier shell. Other factors in effect, include a unit’s connections, blades, and pitcher design. Also, high-quality brands, such as Blendtec and Vitamix, often integrate sound insulation into the motor’s casing.
When all’s said and done, the difference of a high-quality unit, opposed to a low-end blender, equates to between 20 to 30 decibels of sound. That’s the equivalent difference in listening to a blow dryer running next to your ear and hearing moderate rainfall from outside a window. If you mean to make a life habit out of homemade, delicious smoothies (or a less healthy, refreshing margarita habit) it is worth investing in a unit with a decibel level, or dB, of under 60 dB. Around 60 decibels is the equivalent noise level of a verbal conversation.
Blenders are doing a high-intensity job in an extremely contained space, which is not as simple as it looks. A finished
product is only as good as the weakest link in the process, which in a blender, can often be the unit’s blades. Budget blenders are just that—budget. The materials used in constructing the product are, almost always of lesser quality and durability than those of their equivalent high-end counterparts. When it comes to the ice crushing function of a blender, a unit’s blades must be made of a strong enough material to withstand the force and impact of cutting through ice cubes, while remaining sharp over many years. For blending frozen drinks and crushing ice, a dull blade is as useful as a wooden spoon—it isn’t.
In order to slice through the ice, a blender should have strong, sharp blades. The shape of the blades can vary, based on whether you are blending dry goods or wet goods and the specific manufacturer’s proprietary blade design. One of the few outlier brands to these two standard qualifications is Blendtec. Their blenders feature a blunted blade, which they call a “safety blade.”
The company claims that this design makes the blade safe to clean while the motor is powerful enough to pulverize that which is contained inside the pitcher. The Blendtec Designer 725 boasts a peak horsepower of 3.8, bringing its wattage to nearly 4,000! That’s a lot of energy consumption relative to other blenders that can get similar blending results. As established earlier, a unit’s “peak horsepower” is not indicative of the blender’s operating horsepower, which undoubtedly, is significantly lower, and admitted by Blendtec in their footnotes. Physical law would dictate that sharp blades would greatly reduce the number of pounds per square inch of resistance was being based on the blender’s motor; therefore, increasing the power output efficiency of the unit’s motor.
Talk is cheap and blades are sharp. For those with children that seem to be drawn towards spinning blades, the Blendtec Designer 725 is a great way to maximize your blending power, as well as your household safety. However, outside of Blendtec, most brands feature stainless steel (sharpened) blender blades. The best ice crusher blenders feature one of two steel forging techniques…
Hardened Stainless Steel
Often, using a medium to high ratio of carbon within iron, steel is forged by quenching and tempering the blade. Each repetition of this process makes the metal harder, stronger, and more durable. However, hardened steel is susceptible, over a long time to erosion and rust.
Cold-Pressed Stainless Steel
Cold-pressed steel is stronger and harder to create than that of hot-pressed hardened stainless steel. Cold-pressing allows the metal to return to room temperature after each heat treatment. Cold-pressed stainless steel stands up to erosive forces and is no match for rust as it contains a higher carbon count than that of its counterparts.
Some blenders are designed specifically to handle ice crushing jobs and, as such, their pitchers are specifically made to resist the impact of high-velocity ice shards smashing against the sides. High-quality ice crushers are often constructed with polycarbonate instead of glass. High performance blenders can spin contents over 240mph, and with that kind of velocity, glass may shatter and be a safety hazard. Many home cooks greatly prefer glass containers but when they step up to restaurant grade blenders, they must understand safety in the home is a big concern for any manufacturer.
The shape of the unit’s pitcher also relates to the individual ice crushing power of the blender. Round pitchers will tend to allow the ingredients to move easily around the container and mix well together, whereas pitchers with edges will tend to trap ingredients in the corners and create high impact locations where the pitcher’s side is weakest. Vitamix and Blendtec both use containers with edges and various shapes, which work extremely well in keeping ingredients moving and eliminating trapped ingredients.
Most budget blenders, like the Ninja NJ600, are made out of a hard synthetic material, meant to withstand high impact. A heavy polycarbonate and Tritan copolyester are the most commonly used materials in the manufacturing of shatter-resistant blender pitchers. The best units on the market, such as those offered by Vitamix, are made from copolyester and will last a lifetime of use.
Consistency and Reliability
The consistency of your ice crusher blender is completely determinant on the quality of the parts used to make up the unit. It’s easy to be seduced by cheaper models, such as the
Ninja Master Prep QB1004, which claims many of the same benefits that are offered by top quality Vitamix units. However, when it comes down to it, investing in a blender of better quality and higher price, means that you will be able to reliably use the tool for years to come, without replacements, maintenance, or other unnecessary hassles.
Especially for those who plan to subject their ice crushing blender to consistent usage, it is imperative to have a reasonably reliable machine, such as the Breville Boss Super Blender. Breville is known for their quality craftsmanship and reliability. It is fair to put Vitamix and Breville on the same tier of quality; however, their products each offer different benefits. Breville offers a fine-tune speed dial for creating the perfect liquid consistency while Vitamix often offers a variety of specified speed settings.
When it comes to the long-term care of your blender, the best warranty is that which you take on yourself. Regular cleaning and maintaining of the blades, motor, connectors, and seals of your blender will go a long way in maintaining the unit’s operational integrity. However, for those who wish to have a manufacturer’s seal of approval as well, just in case, most blender brands offer a full or limited warranty on their unit models. Vitamix, the industry frontrunner in quality blenders, offers up to a 10-year warranty with the Vitamix Professional Series 750. The most important time to be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty is around the one year mark. After a unit’s first year of use, it will begin to experience whatever complications that have been looming. At this point, you want to whip out your handy 10-year warranty.
Blending smoothies with a top-of-the-line ice crusher blender is a fun, healthy habit to add to your daily routine. With the right blender, making juice-bar quality drinks is a breeze and soon you will be sharing smoothies with friends and neighbors. Investing in a high-quality ice crusher is the best way to ensure the longevity of your smoothie habit and will continue to benefit your daily life for years and years to come.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments and questions. Blend well!